So if you are thinking of joining the profession, consider the amount of competition that already has a headstart on you, even if not all of them are currently practising, however that figure does not include trainees, some of who also can legally teach and get paid.
Taking driving lessons with Red
A regular question I get asked and a frequent term that drives people to my website is should I take driving lessons with Red Driving school, the AA or BSM?
I have answered this question in a previous article entitled AA driving lessons, so I won't repeat myself here as the brand doesn't matter, it is the individual tutor and his/her attitude and approach to clients that matters, all are running a franchise.
The other question has to do with training to become a driving instructor with Red, the options and avenues to achieve the goal.
Should I become a DSA ADI by training with Red instructor college?
Feb 2010 Red driving school in administration
Update May 2010: Red on BBC one Dom littlewood
I had someone approach me recently about becoming a driving instructor, and my honest advice to them was don't do it. If you watch some of the channels on Sky TV, then you would have seen the adverts by Red Driving School for becoming a driving instructor. The TV advert sings the praises of how you can earn £30,000 a year as a DSA ADI, the joys of being independent and choosing the hours you want to work, having a new car and how you will have a guaranteed job after you finish the expensive ADI training course, and many people every year see these type of adverts, hear of the price of driving lessons and automatically start thinking of changing their career and dream of the large amount of income/money that they will be making after going through the qualifying process of becoming an instructor and setting up their own learner school being their own boss.
First lets deal with the claims of the Red Driving School advert about becoming a driving instructor.
Can you earn £30,000 a year teaching learner drivers? What salary can you expect as a driving instructor? Yes you can, but not in your first year after becoming a driving instructor, and probably not in your second year either!
Can you choose the hours you work even if you are have a franchise with the AA Driving School, Red or BSM? Absolutely, but you might not have any pupils willing to take driving lessons when you would prefer them to, so if you want to make a lot of money, you would not be able to be as flexible as you would like, especially as a newly qualified driving instructor! There is an even more important reason why a newly qualified driving instructor will not be able to choose the hours that he or she works, and I'll get to that later, something they don't tell you about becoming an ADI.
The new driving school car you get as a driving instructor if you take out a franchise with Red Driving School like the new Vauxhall astra, Ford focus with the AA, fiat 500 with BSM, LDC or any other school that offers franchises, but the cars are not free of charge as a benefit, you pay a weekly fee for them, upto almost £400 in some cases! Think about how many lessons you would need to give just to pay for the car (franchise fees), before you start to make any profit (what about fuel costs, you pay that as well, which could be hefty if it is a large sized engine and work in the country where you might need to travel 5miles or more between lessons!).
A guaranted job after ADI training? Of course, but not a job, a franchise! All learner driving instructors in the UK are self-employed (there is probably one exception), so you are not employed by Red Driving School, AA, BSM, LDC, etc. So you basically are not guaranteed any weekly or monthly salary, and when it comes down to it, you are really on your own, so go over the terms of your driving school franchise with a fine comb, as you will even see that you are not guaranteed any number of pupils a week, and you still need to pay your weekly fee whether you have had enough driving lessons or not. This is the reason why a newly qualified driving instructor will not be able to choose hours they work, they need to pay the franchise fee as well as earn a living!
Driving Instructor (ADI) Training
So why do orgnisations like Red Driving School, the Instructor College take out such adverts to convince people to become driving instructors? The bottom line is money! All the big driving schools like the AA, BSM, LDC, Red, make their money from Driving Instructors, and not from pupils who are learning to drive. It costs about £3,000 give or take to become a driving instructor with one of these driving schools or the instructor college (by the way Red Driving School and the Instructor College are part of the same parent group), and after you qualify, you will take out a franchise with them (giving them even more money). Of the thouands of people that start out to become driving instructors each year, only about 30% pass the ADI part 3 exam that allows them to qualify. Even after qualifying, you are not home free! The market competition is very fierce and the learner driver basically can choose who and what they are willing to pay, many give up after qualifying either because of debt or not being able to make a decent living as an ADI.
As a new qualified driving instructor even if you have a franchise with the likes of Red Driving School, you will still have to do you own marketing to get yourself additional pupils to pay that hefty £300+ weekly fee as well as make yourself money to live on. Teaching people to become driving instructors is more lucrative than learners, because potential driving instructors (PDIs), are mature, serious people who are willing to pay a little higher than a learner, will have the money (even if it is borrowed) to pay for the course, and some might even try more than once because they don't have the whole picture and think that being a driving instructor is an easy way to make money.
So having given you the true facts, I would say you really MUST want to be a driving instructor, and money MUST NOT be the overiding factor. There are many instructors making decent earnings, but they didn't get there in a year, and it will take time, hard work and some stressful times to get there.
Why do you want to become an approved driving instructor? There are enough ADIs out there, there are no shortage of instructors and there is not enough work to go round all the instructors, so joining the industry at this time means you have even more work to do to get your business established. Your first step to becoming a driving instructor is actually passing the crb check which can take a few weeks during which time the only thing you can do is start reading your ADI part one books in preparation for the theory test.
Q: How old do you have to be in order to become a driving instructor?
A: The minimum age a driving instructor can be is 21, but you need to have held a driving licence for 4 years by the time you qualify as an ADI.
Q: How long does it take to become an ADI?
A: The time it takes to become a driving instructor depends on how well your training goes, DSA test waiting times and your ability to pass part 1, 2 and 3 of the ADI qualifying exams. I heard of one person qualifying in 6 months!
Q: How can I become a driving instructor for free of charge?
A: There is currently no way yo can become an ADI free, you need to pay for the training. There are some government and commercial loans available, but before you commit yourself to debt, read this artcle fully, including the comments to make sure this is really what you want to do.
More reading on becoming a driving instructor
Independent driving instructor training
How I became a driving instructor
Driving Instructor Earnings
Driving lessons with red
Cheap driving lessons
Marketing your driving school business.
10 Important driving test tips
ITV Tonight produced a programme featuring Red Driving School, but it is no longer available on their website.
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